Instructor Shows Librarians Ways To Hide LGBTQ+ Books From Parents

A recent virtual library conference has ignited a heated discussion among parents, as one of the speakers, an instructor at the University of South Carolina, urged librarians to take measures to conceal books with LGBTQ+ themes from parents and community members. 

Valerie Byrd Fort presented a session titled “Get Ready, Stay Ready: Community Action Toolkit” at the Library 2.0 event, and she seemed to advocate for a rather troubling approach of preventing parents and community members from discovering books that explore LGBT+ topics. 

One of the strategies suggested was the creation of rotating displays featuring recommended books, intended to showcase the library’s support for all students. By involving student volunteers in curating these displays, librarians could conveniently deflect criticism by attributing the choices to young individuals who supposedly expressed a desire for such resources to be available.

“If somebody maybe has something to say about one of those displays, you could say, ‘well, we had one of our teen volunteers create it, so it just goes to show that they want to see it and they need to see these resources,'” she stated.

Furthermore, Fort recommended avoiding the use of “identity-based subject headings” like “LGBTQIA+” or “Gays Fiction” when labeling these books. 

“It makes it too easy for parents or community members to find those kinds of books. Don’t make it necessarily easy for those groups to find,” she stated.

In an approach that undermines transparency, she suggests that using “dummy covers” would make it more challenging for parents or concerned citizens to locate such materials.

To ensure convenient access for interested students while maintaining an element of secrecy, Fort proposed providing physical or digital lists of LGBT-themed literature. These lists would only be accessible through a username and password, thus making it very hard for parents and guardians to see.

Fort also addressed concerns that might arise from students who have reservations about certain books. She suggested explaining to them that just because a book may not align with their personal preferences, it should not be withheld from others. 

Fort’s address has led to backlash from parents and community members who see it as a subtle push to restrict access to books with LGBTQ+ themes amid the fight against the introduction of explicit content and age-inappropriate topics related to gender identity to young children.

Critics firmly believe that libraries should serve as neutral spaces, allowing parents and community members to actively participate in shaping the reading materials available to children.

Seeing the pushback, the Library 2.0 event organizers were quick to distance themselves from Fort’s statements. A spokesperson clarified that the conference did not endorse any particular position on issues and emphasized that the speakers were not compensated for their participation.

“So those particular remarks, or any remarks in that context, do not represent the position of the conference organizers, as we’ve never taken a position on any issue. And while we might personally agree or disagree with specific sentiments that are expressed in forum discussions or conference sessions, we’ve never censored or deleted any content–although we obviously would if it were slanderous or illegal,” the spokesperson told Daily Caller.